Charles J.C. Hutson and Confederate Flag Culture

Using primary sources from ‘American History 1493-1945' - an Adam Matthew collection

The letters of Charles J.C. Hutson, a former student of South Carolina College and a soldier in the First South Carolina Volunteers, provide insight on various topics pertaining to the American Civil War era. Held at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and accessible via Adam Matthew Digital’s ‘American History 1493-1945’ collection, the bulk of the materials pertain to the war period (1861-1865). Continue reading

Book Review: The Boatman: Henry David Thoreau’s River Years by Robert M. Thorson

Most biographers have ignored Henry David Thoreau’s relationship to the river but Robert Thorson here aims to correct this narrow focus by arguing that the river – the active ever-changing water bustiling with activity both human and natural – is as much a part of Thoreau’s canon and its landscape as the still water of Walden Pond. In this book Thorson envisions Thoreau’s environment as a hybrid of land and water, and the man as a boatman as much as a woodsman. Continue reading

Represented in the American Hemisphere: The United Kingdom, the Rise of Pan-Americanism, and the Canadian Question

Using primary sources from ‘Confidential Print: North America, 1824-1961' - an Adam Matthew collection

In 1990, Canada became a fully-fledged member of the Organization of American States (OAS). Whilst the diplomatic implications of joining an inter-American political system were obvious, Canadian membership additionally symbolised that Pan-Americanism now encompassed the sovereign British dominion. Although it remains a contested concept, Pan-Americanism is the idea that the nations of the Americas ought to cooperate for mutual benefit because they share a distinct inter-American relationship that separates them from the rest of the world. Continue reading

Book Review: The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection by Dorceta E. Taylor

Dorceta E. Taylor, The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection (Duke University Press, 2016) pp. 486. $29.95. Dorceta E. Taylor introduces The Rise of the American Conservation Movement: Power, Privilege, and Environmental Protection as the second book in a series of three, although they were not … Continue reading

Review: The Eleventh International Melville Society Conference

Kings College London

The eleventh international Melville Society conference was a leviathan of an event, demonstrated by its need for two reviews. Spanning four days, it offered an intensive and diverse range of panels, seminars and activities, which allowed the participants to engage actively with an impressive range of various aspects of current Melvillean scholarship. Continue reading

The Maroons of Prospect Bluff: The Free Black Fort of Nineteenth Century Florida

A special article marking the 201st anniversary of the destruction of the 'Negro Fort' at Prospect Bluff (1816)

The ‘Negro Fort’ at Prospect Bluff was one of the most formidable Maroon settlements in the whole of the New World that met its volatile end on 27 July, 1816. The story of these fugitives remains eschewed outside of academic circles, perhaps due to its uncomfortable reminder of the extent the pre-Civil War United States went to in upholding the racial status quo. Continue reading

The Authoritarian Heroes of Liberal Individualism

The U.S. has long been known as a society of contrasts in which seemingly irreconcilable tendencies find a way to coexist. Unbounded belief in modern science versus conservative religious convictions, sober pragmatism versus utopian aspirations, deep-seated distrust of state authority versus ardent patriotism are only some of the juxtapositions that characterize the social climate. Recently, this gallery of American contrasts has been supplemented by yet another striking phenomenon: as a nation that celebrates radically individualistic values more than any other Western country, and is, therefore, extremely sensitive toward restrictions of personal freedom, Americans have voted in a president who placed the erosion of basic rights for large parts of the population based upon their race or religion at the center of his campaign. Continue reading

Book Review: Whiteness on the Border: Mapping the U.S. Racial Imagination in Brown and White by Lee Bebout

The work of Arizona State Associate Professor, Lee Bebout, in Whiteness on the Border is certainly topical. To date, the current U.S. administration plans to build a multi-billion-dollar border wall between Mexico and the U.S., solidifying a line in the sand across which ‘Mexican chaos south of the border must not cross’ (63). Those Americans supporting such a project are likely influenced to varying degrees by the very stereotypes about which Bebout writes. He suggests that theirs ‘is a fear not of military invasion per se but of cultural and biological influence and takeover’ (69). Continue reading

Book review: A Short History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean by Alan McPherson

In A Short History of U.S. Interventions, part of Wiley-Blackwell’s Viewpoints/Punto de Vista series, Alan McPherson analyses U.S. interventions in Latin America from the No Transfer resolution of 1811 through the present-day drug wars. McPherson argues that the foremost goal of U.S. policymakers was ‘political stability and political cultural change’ (4). Economic and other motivations certainly played a role, but he asserts that every intervention ‘harboured above all political motives’ (4). Continue reading